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Bubble Jet Set Questions & Answers Page
Click here to see Caryl's book on fabric printing.


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Here are the Manufacturers Instructions for using Bubble Jet Set :
On the label of the bottle: Shake well and pour solution into flat pan.  Saturate fabric in the solution for five minutes.  Allow fabric to dry.  Iron fabric to the smooth side of freezer paper. Cut size to fit your printer.  Print on treated fabric, and let sit for 30 minutes. Machine wash (delicate Cycle) in cold water with a mild detergent.   For best results wash with "Bubble Jet Rinse"  (available from http://www.cjenkinscompany.com/) Precautions:  Rubber Gloves recommended.  Use only in areas with adequate ventilation.  Use only as directed. Results may vary with different printers and inks. 

Here is a newsletter from the Manufacturer
: This letter is for all Bubble Jet Set 2000 users. My name is Jerome Jenkins and my job responsibility is to educate and demonstrate to all crafters how to properly use the product Bubble Jet Set 2000. I am writing this letter to all crafters because there is a lot of incorrect information out there about how to use this product.
  1. If you are using or selling the Original Bubble Jet Set formula please tell all consumers that this product has been replaced with the Bubble Jet Set 2000.
  2. The Bubble Jet Set 2000 will work with HP printers and all other printers. This product replaced the original formula - we do not manufacture the Original Formula any longer.
  3. This product cannot be heat set. If you attempt to heat set this product it will not work at all! Many crafters attempt to make the image permanent by heating in the dryer or with a iron. The final step "which is washing the fabric with a mild detergent" is necessary in making this product work correctly.
  4. This product only works with 100% cotton or 100% silk. If you use fabrics with synthetic blends, it will not work. Must be 100% cotton or silk.
  5. Results will vary with different printers.
  6. DO NOT WASH IN COLD WATER ONLY! --- You must use a mild detergent when washing the fabric. We highly recommend the Bubble Jet Rinse product. If you do not wash your designs with a mild detergent, it will BLEED! The purpose for this step is to get the loose inks out of the fabric. Cold water will not get these loose inks out of the fabric and when it dries it will bleed! If washing the fabric by hand please wash with the Bubble Jet Rinse and work the rinse in the fabric for about 2 minutes. This should get all the loose inks out. Again, do not simply run the fabric under cold water. (Please use the Bubble Jet Rinse!)
  7. Most important --- please follow the instructions on the bottle!
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What printer do you use for printing on fabric

The printer I was using on the Simply Quilts show was an HP psc 950. It scans, faxes, prints, copies, reads digital camera cards, and probably even cooks breakfast. New models come out every six months, and I can't begin to keep up on all of the printers available.

In 1999, when I first discovered Bubble Jet Set, I went out and bought a 13" wide Epson photo printer. It was better than anything I had tried before, and I loved it. This is the printer used for the Stars of Africa quilt and several others. It took ten minutes for a standard copier size photo quality print, and an hour and a half for the maximum print size of 13" x 44". I needed to increase both the contrast and saturation of my images to get brilliant images. But it was worth it.

Three years later, I got the 13" wide Epson 2000p, which prints with archival inks. The images are not as brilliant as with the dye based inks, but they are immediately washable, and are supposed to be light fast up to 200 years. Soaking the fabric in Bubble Jet Set results in a significant increase in the sharpness and brilliance of the images, even though it is not needed to make the ink washable. The printing time was the same as the first Epson printer.

In 2003, I got the Hewlett Packard psc950. Since I travel with my computer equipment, this was the ideal machine, because it scans, reads photo cards, copies, and prints. We should have one in every quilting workshop classroom. Much to my delight, I discovered that it also prints faster and better than my other printers. The 8x10 print that took 10 minutes on the old printer takes exactly one minute and ten seconds on the HP950. Images that had to be enhanced and printed at the highest resolution, printed with full brilliance at the default setting on the 950. I can also skip the computer completely, and just copy and enlarge my photos or other objects, using the copy function.

Later models of the HP all in ones have had varying results. On some the default setting works best and on others it was necessary to use the "best" setting. The less expensive models do not print as well, and some of the latest models do not have the same depth of field in their scanners, and produce disappointing results when scanning three dimensional objects.

In 2003 I also got the HP 13" wide printer, and it could print a 13" x 50" image in ten minutes (vs. 1.5 hours on the Epson). As with most printers I have tried, this printer worked brilliantly for several years, and then started having problems. No one seems to be able to fix these machines, so I got the latest HP model in 2005. It also prints brilliantly, but the length of the image is limited to 24" (hummmpf!). It has begun to have feeding problems (2009) and I have not yet found a new printer to replace it.

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Tips for preparing the dry fabric sheets for printing:

Cut your fabric sheets (before soaking) slightly larger than the size you will be printing.  (i.e. for 8 x 11 cut your sheets 9" x 11" or larger) This allows you to trim off to the exact size of a piece of copier paper, and allows for shrinkage. Keep in mind that you are not necessarily limited to 11" long just because your printers width is 8½". Most printers have a banner setting and will print 44" or longer. You can made really big pictures in strips and then sew them together.

I discovered that if there are any air bubbles between the fabric and the freezer paper it can cause your print to smudge, so it is important to iron the fabric until it is thoroughly bonded to the freezer paper.  I found that you can use the same piece of freezer paper several times, and after the first use it is easier to get it flat and free of air bubbles.

To solve the problem of curling and rolling that sometimes happens when using grocery store freezer paper, C. Jenkins has developed sepcial heavy duty freezer paper sheets that adhear better and prevent rolling and curling.

You can also adhere your fabric sheets to copier paper or card stock with one of the repositionable aerosol adhesives on the market.  There are many different brands, and all may not work equally well.  I had very good results with 3M Photo-Mount. (Available at office supply stores and camera stores)  Some of the embroidery sprays available at quilt shops may work equally well.

Cut the fabric sheets to copier size with a sharp rotary cutter, using a gridded cutting mat as a guide. Avoid little hairs sticking out from the side that might catch in the printer.

Run the fabric sheets through your printer just like paper.

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How to prevent rolling and curling of freezer paper

To solve the problem of curling and rolling that sometimes happens when using grocery store freezer paper, C. Jenkins has developed sepcial heavy duty freezer paper sheets that adhear better and prevent rolling and curling. You will find them under Bubble Jet Set in our internet store.

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Soaking tips

I usually soak a whole pile of fabric sheets at the same time. 
Lay one sheet in the bottom of a flat plastic box and pour a little BJS on top.  Wearing gloves, rub the liquid into the fabric until it is thoroughly soaked. Put a second sheet on top of the first, and it will soak up the excess liquid from the first sheet.   Pour a little more BJS on the second sheet and rubbed it in.  Then add the third sheet to the pile, and so on and so on.  When  finished your will have a big pile of thoroughly soaked fabric with no wasted excess liquid in the bottom of the plastic box.  Hang dry the fabric, or spread the fabric to dry on a table top covered with a plastic sheet a towel.

I got a total of sixty eight 9" x 12" sheets of from one 32 oz bottle of BJS.  This was with a fine quality pima cotton.  A more absorbent fabric like muslin or sheeting will yield fewer sheets, and a finer fabric like silk habitue will yield more.

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Printing on fabric is like printing on plain paper, vs printing on photographic quality paper. Bubble Jet Set contains some chemicals called gamma increasers that will make the image more brilliant than it would be on unsoaked fabric. However, it will not make your images look like they would printed on expensive photographic quality paper. To get more brilliant images I find it works best to make adjustments to the image in a graphics program before I begin printing. When I scan an image on my flatbed scanner, I usually increase the "gamma" a bit before I do the scan. This seems to add depth and contrast to the image. Even after scanning, I edit the bitmap to add both contrast and saturation. The image that looks exactly the way you want it on your screen may look much duller when printed out. Increasing contrast and saturation may make the image look garish on the screen, but it probably will come closer to the result you want when printed out on fabric. I recommend testing an image before you begin printing large sheets. Make one image small enough to print out four to six times on a single sheet. In your photo-editing program make several different adjustments to the brightness, contrast and saturation of your image. Keep track of what adjustments you made on each image, and print them all out on the same sheet. This will give you a much better idea of what kind of adjustments you may want to make to future images. Each computer set up is different, so you will want to test your own system and to find your best results.
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Tips for good printing:

I did some experiments on the printer settings on my Epson 600 printer, and found that I got the best quality print by using the "advanced" or "custom" options rather than the automatic settings.  Click on the advanced option, and then click on the more settings button. Under print quality,  I selected the finest DPI (720x1440).   Under media type I selected photo quality glossy film or photo quality glossy paper (didn't seem to make a difference).  Under color adjustment, I selected "vivid" (seems to put out more ink, which soaks further into the fabric.).  The one exception to the vivid setting is when I am printing warm reds (rust, orange, peach, coral)  The vivid setting seems to favor fuschia, and the reds shift from warm to cool at this setting.  You will need to make several test prints to find the best settings for your printer. I find that on my new Epson printer I get the best results on the automatic setting and that the images need to be improved (more saturation and more contrast) in a graphics program to get the most brilliant results.

To avoid smudging of your prints, see: Tips for preparing the fabric sheets for the printer

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Tips for washing out:

I recommend washing in a washer with lots of water to make sure that all unreacted ink is removed from the fabric.  If you use a small container of water, there is a chance that as the excess ink and chemical wash out of the fabric the molecules will attach to other parts of the fabric, causing graying of the image. 

Use lots of water, and be sure your fabric can move about freely.   One customer reported getting a black line along a fold in her fabric. If the loose ink migrates to a fold before all the chemical is washed out, it can still react with the fabric and create an unwanted mark.   Do not let the fabric fold back on itself.  This can also cause ink to transfer from one area of the printed image to another.    I use the large load setting for the wash process.  I want to be sure all the chemical and excess dye are out, and I don't want to risk having excess ink reacting in places where I don't want it.  During the wash cycle, I look in the wash tub and check to be sure the printed fabrics are not folded or twisted.  If you hand wash, use a big tub of water, and keep the fabric moving. 

I generally give my printed images a really good rinse in a basin of cold water with a capful of Bubble Jet Rinse before throwing thm into the washer.. I hang on to the corners to prevent the fabric from folding and drag the it through the water for a minute or two then throw it into a washer cycle that is already agitating. I often do group of printed images in the same washer load. I just rinse each one individually before I throw it in and I keep the washer agitating the whole time I'm adding them.

I find that I get the best results when I dry the washed fabric in the dryer along with an old towel.

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Does the printed fabric have to be washed?

The product is design to be used according to the directions on the bottle, which include washing the fabric before using it. Using printed fabric that has not been washed would be like using fabric that had been dyed with fiber reactive dye and not washed. Not all the ink molecules react with the fabric. The loose ink molecules and the chemical need to be washed away. If the fabric gets wet with loose molecules still in it, they will migrate (run) to another part of the fabric which still has the chemical in it, and react where they are not wanted. The best product for washing is Bubble Jet Rinse, because it is not only designed to wash away the loose molecules and chemical, it is also designed to further set the ink that has reacted with the fabric.

Even if you are making a product that you don't plan to wash, the fabric should be washed before you use it. If the iron should dribble, or if a stray drop of water gets on the fabric, loose ink molecules will spread with the liquid and react in areas of the fabric where they are not wanted. You need to remove all the Bubble Jet Set and the loose ink molecules before using the fabric.

As for repeated washings, I have a blouse that has been washed at least four times, with no additional fading. I don't wash it in regular detergent, which contains bleach. I wash it each time in Bubble Jet Rinse. I haven't dry cleaned anything that has been printed with Bubble Jet Set. Please let me know what you find out when you do your test.

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Will steam setting the image help?

Steam setting will have absolutely no effect as far as setting regular ink jet printer ink. If the iron dribbles, however, the loose ink molecules can spread with the liquid and react in areas of the fabric where they are not wanted.

With archival, pigment based inks (available with only a small handful of printers) steam setting may help. This is a different kind of ink completely from what you find in 99% of ink jet printers. Click here for an Explanation.

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How much fabric will one bottle soak?

It depends on the absorbency and weight of the fabric. I generally use a fine, pima cotton broadcloth which is 45" wide. I can soak seven yards of fabric with one bottle. If you are soaking a muslin or a heavier cotton sheeting, obviously more BJS will be absorbed by each inch of fabric, and the yardage will be less. On the other hand if you are using a fine silk, you may be able to soak 20 yards or more.

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Printing fabric sheets larger than 8½" x 11"

You are NOT limited to 8½ x 11 sheets. The width of your print is limited by the width of the printer carriage. However, every brand of printer has a "banner", "custom", or "user defined" setting somewhere in the depths of the drop down menus. On my Epson printers, I can print up to 44" long. I think on some other brands you can print 60" or even longer. Remember you need to set the paper size (i.e. 8½ x 44") in the program in which you are designing as well as in the printer program. It's always a good idea to select "print preview" just in case the two programs don't match. The price of printers is falling, and it's not much more expensive these day, to buy a 13" wide printer, than it is to buy an 8½" wide printer.

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Is the treated fabric safe for baby quilts?

Is the treated fabric safe for bird toys?

This product has not been tested for children's wear or animal toys, so it is not recommended. Please contact the manufacturer directly for more information about the chemistry:  Jerome at neckties@i1.net

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Can I use the treated fabric 6 months after it has been treated?

The manufacturer recommends using the fabric right away. Personally, I have use fabric that was treated months earlier, and it worked fine, but it was stored in a cool dry place inside an airtight plastic bag. Before doing a big job, I would definitely recommend that you do a test print on any fabric that has been sitting for any length of time to be sure it is still good. The product reacts with oxygen, so the longer it sits, the more likely it is that it has reacted and will no longer work.

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Fold Warning

Another quilter reported that her fabric was folded when she washed her fabric in the washer.  Apparently some of the loose ink collected in the fold, and reacted with the fabric, because she had a visible line along the fold when she ironed her fabric.  You might want to stop the washer a couple of times during the wash cycle, and make sure the fabric is not folded back on itself or twisted while it is agitating.

I often rinse each piece individually in a full laundry tub of water and Bubble Jet Rinse before tossing it into the washer. I grab the corners and drag the fabric through the water to remove most of the loose ink before it goes in the washer with the other fabric.

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Pre-rinsing

I often rinse each piece individually in a full laundry tub of water and Bubble Jet Rinse before tossing it into the washer. I grab the corners and drag the fabric through the water to remove most of the loose ink before it goes in the washer with the other fabric.

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Can this product be used with copiers?

Laser copiers and laser printers do not require this product. I run fabric through my  old Canon PC-7 copier, all the time and just heat set it with a steam iron. If you can find someone who is willing to run your fabric through their color laser copier, that will be permanent also. Unfortunately the color machines are very expensive, and finding someone willing to run fabric through one (thus voiding their warrantee) is rare.

I'm not an expert, but as far as I know, the color copiers that are sold for home use are all ink-jet, not laser.  If you can run your fabric through, this product will work with your copier. 

In simpler terms:  If your copier is refilled with powder, it can be heat set, and will be permanent.  If you refill your copier with an ink cartridge, it is ink-jet, and you will need BJS to make it permanent.

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What is the best fabric for printing?

Bubble Jet Set can be used with cotton, silk, or acetate fabrics. I did a test with the same image on about a dozen different fabrics one time, and got slightly different results on each one. The best quality prints to my eye were on a high thread count, pure white cotton broadcloth like pimi-tex or broadcloth supreme, and on acetate satin. Naturally the cotton is nicer to sew than acetate, so that's what I use for most of my printing. I got some very good results on silk with color, however the blacks were a little washed out. On very fine silks, the color showed on both sides, so you could even print neck scarves using the banner setting on your printer. Unlike fabric used with fiber reactive dyes, a sizing on the fabric did not seem to make a difference. I generally use fabric that is pfd (prepared for dyeing) but in my test I used at lease one unwashed fabric with a permanent press finish, and the image did not wash out. As will everything else in quilting, I recommend doing a couple of test prints with your fabric and your printer to see what will yield the best results with your equipment.

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Here's a great testimonial:

Dear Caryl, I recently ordered Bubble-Jet from you. I accidentally came across it while browsing your page. I had been very upset to find my new Epson printer ink was water soluble, and couldn't figure out what I should do for quilt labels...hand printing them is almost out of the question as I put song lyrics and short stories on the labels. I have to admit, I was skeptical, but read the directions, and followed them to the letter. Tonight I printed out my first batch of labels, I am absolutely amazed...This stuff works!! I even washed one of the labels that had a wrinkle in it only 5 hours later--no running! I can't thank you enough for making bubble-jet available---and for being as close as my computer when I need to order more. I have quilts that have been waiting for months for a label..I didn't know what I was going to do..Thank you..over and over...Bev Custer
PS. Feel free to use these statements to anyone considering the purchase of this amazing stuff!...they will be thrilled, but tell them to order two bottles, like I did! They won't want to run out!

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International Distributors: For the most current information, check with the manufacturer at: http://www.cjenkinscompany.com/distributors.htm.

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Can I use a laser printer to print on fabric?

Yes, you can print onto fabric with a laser printer by attaching your fabric to freezer paper or card stock. I can't begin to keep up on all of the available printers, so this assumes that your printer will accept the fabric without jamming.

The good news is that you don't have to pre-soak you fabric. The bad news is
* The colors will probably not be a brilliant as images made with an ink jet printer.
* You will need to heat set your image with a pressing cloth and be extremely careful when ironing any part of the project that includes your laser images because the ink will melt onto your iron and transfer to other parts of your fabric where you don't want it.
* Unlike ink jet(dye based)inks, which bond chemically with the fabric when Bubble Jet Set is used, the laser images will be sitting on the surface of the fabric and will wear off eventually if the finished project is washed.

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